Diamonds, Part III: Our Experience & Tips

Part I
Part II 

It was my love for cushion cuts that led me to Mark T at Engagement Rings Direct (or ERD). He is affectionately known as “The Cushion King” in the online world of diamonds. People raved about his eye for well-cut diamonds (not just cushions), his very fair prices, and his honesty. And although he is an online vendor, he also has an office which is located in the heart of the NYC diamond district.

When I first tried on rings with Mr. Peony at a Tiffany’s, I saw that the cushions didn’t really look good on my fingers (the Tiffany Lucida and the new Novo are actually types of cushion cuts). I didn’t like the look of large diamonds either – I hardly wear jewelry and I look very young for my age…I just felt uncomfortable with a large ring on my finger. Some women can pull it off, but I can’t. I fell in love with an oval with pear sidestones at Tiffany’s. So before meeting with Mark T, I told him exactly what I wanted and he was able to pull some very beautiful ovals for me.

(Before I continue, I have to say that I’m very lucky to be in NYC. More than 75% of the diamonds sold in the US go through the NYC diamond district at one point or another. So Mark T has a great pool of resources. In addition, his office is in the same building as the GIA’s NYC branch! He can just look at their database of diamonds and run downstairs if he sees something he likes.)

Mark T and his associate both told us that well-cut ovals are very hard to find these days because they are not so popular (cushions and asschers are all the rage these days). When my mother called her jeweler, they confirmed this as well, so we know what they said wasn’t just a sales tactic. However, the ones they pulled for us were all so beautiful that I had a hard time deciding. They were sooo patient with us, showing us the diamonds under different lighting conditions, teaching us how to use a loupe (the jeweler’s magnifier), and sitting with us for over an hour while we made our decision. I immediately fell in love with a 1.50ct oval; however, I felt like I should think about it before we make such a big decision. We asked them to hold the diamond for us.

In the days following, my mother called around to different jewelers to see if they had comparable ovals. Most of them didn’t (good ovals are hard to find), or they wanted thousands more than what Mark had quoted.

So we decided to go with it! When I told them my decision, they told me that it was the first diamond they had pulled for me and they knew I would like it.

I hung out with a bunch of friends recently and they all commented that the pictures I took didn’t do justice – my ring really sparkles like crazy in real life! Ever since he proposed Mr. Peony keeps taking my hand to admire it as well. laughin035

This past Friday I stopped by ERD to pick up some papers. Mark asked to see my ring again, admired it, and while sitting amongst huge, 3+ct diamonds, he commented that it was one of the best ovals he’d seen quite some time. pleased07 This made me so happy knowing just how many diamonds he must see every day!




Isn’t she a beaut? heart206

Along with ERD, there are other very respectable, trustworthy online vendors as well (online vendors usually have a lot lower prices because they don’t have to deal with the overhead costs as regular jewelry stores). Whiteflash is based in Houston and they specialize in ACA, or A Cut Above diamonds, which are cut especially for them to their specifications. They also recently started carrying X-Factors, which is supposed to be a great (and better) alternative to princess cuts. Good Old Gold is based in Long Island and they’re known to find some of the best diamonds out there while providing tons of documentation on each diamond they sell. They also carry a great selection of Square Hearts & Arrows, which has the performance of a round in a square shape. Another great option is James Allen, which is based in Frederick, MD.

When purchasing a diamond, the worst thing you can do is walk into a jewelry store and pick something they have on display. First, you need to do your research. Then make sure that the diamond you’re interested in is certified by a lab such as GIA or AGS (EGL tends to go soft with their grading so they’re not always recommended). If it is not certified, take it to a reputable appraiser to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. While looking at diamonds, look at them under various types of lighting. The lights in jewelry stores are deceptive! What may look great in the store may be a dud in normal lighting.

A good jeweler will be honest with you and try their very best to find the best diamond for YOU. They will not try to push more expensive diamonds (in fact, most of the diamonds that ERD showed us were under our budget) nor will they pressure you to buy. All the jewelers above will call in diamonds for you if they do not have something you’re looking for in their stock.

Another important thing is their trade-up policy. All the jewelers above also have lifetime trade-up policies. While I’m very sentimental and I could never trade up my e-ring, some women are more than happy to do so. Some may not have the money for a nice e-ring when they get engaged so they may upgrade for an anniversary later on. Whatever the reason, the point is that these vendors will allow you to trade in your diamond for 100% of the initial purchase price. If you think about it, they will not do this unless they believe in their product – if they sell a sh*tty diamond now, and the person comes back years later to trade it in, it’s the jeweler’s loss. For example, Whiteflash, although they will sell certain diamonds if the customer really wants it, they will tell the customer outright that they believe there are better diamonds out there at the same price. If the customer insists that they buy that inferior diamond, Whiteflash will tell them that the diamond will not be eligible for the lifetime trade-in policy.

In addition, if you’re in the position to get engaged in the near future, try on a bunch of rings beforehand! I LOVED the look of certain shapes, settings, etc in pictures but when I tried them on they looked horrible on my hand. Guys, if you’re trying to surprise your girl, ask her friends what she likes! And don’t be afraid to go into a jewelry store just to look. Even if it is with your significant other. Mr. Peony actually saved money by going to a jewelry store with me beforehand.

When I was still deciding between an oval and a cushion, I read an article about diamond shapes and the personalities of women who wear them. I can’t remember every detail but they said that a round is for very traditional women who are family-oriented. They like to play things safe. The princess is for the modern women: they like to take charge, they are assertive, and they take risks. The oval is for those who are very traditional but like to stand out from the crowd once in a while. They are for those who like to be classic/elegant but unique at the same time (just like me!). The article also said that women who wear ovals make very good wives winky020 – I’m sure Mr. Peony would like that! Anyway, when I read this article, I knew I was an oval girl!

If you have any questions about diamonds at all, feel free to ask! I’d love to help anyone out!


Mrs. Peony

New York
Wedding Date:
April 2008
Long After The Shutter Snaps
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  1. Guest Icon Guest
    Lissa, Guest @ 1:01 pm

    What a beautiful ring! Isn’t the oval a pretty shape? I, too, have an oval diamond engagement ring. Though mine is not as large and on a much simpler band.

    Do you ever get asked what shape it is? I’ve had a lot of people think it’s a marquis.

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    Eilis, Guest @ 3:52 pm

    For any of you lovely ladies looking for alternatives to diamonds, my engagement ring is moissanite and I LOVE IT! One jeweler even thought I was mistaken when I told him how much it was worth when getting it sized…he thought I’d forgotten a zero!
    The best part about it? My guy picked it out for me. Gotta love this symbolic tradition, regardless of what it is made of or what size it is! 🙂

  3. Guest Icon Guest
    R, Guest @ 7:18 pm

    As a former jeweler and diamond grader, I will tell you that among jewelers and cutters, there is a ranking of cuts. Some cuts are considered regal/classy, while others are considered cheap, and it is surprising what your jeweler may actually think. Of course, your jeweler will never tell you how he/she feels about your stone because it is your decision ultimately. I will keep these industry opinons to myself because I think that a lot of feelings will be hurt, but if you’re really interested, just go to high end jewelry stores, say, Harry Winston and see what the bulk of larger stones are cut as. Certain cuts require high quality roughs while other cuts “mask” the inclusions. Also, round brilliants actually look larger than other cuts because the bulk of the weight is at the table with the least amount of weight at the culet whereas other cuts require more weight at the bottom. Just take a look at 3 carat round; it looks more like a 4 carat stone, and 2 carats look like 3 carats. Also, I would always go with GIA.

  4. poppy Bee
    poppy 71 posts, Worker bee @ 8:28 pm

    i have to say miss peony’s ring in person is even MORE beautiful than these pictures right here 🙂 thank you miss peony for such an informative post on diamonds to help those not yet engaged to get the best diamond for their money thanks to your tips 🙂 i’m sure many men will thank you in the future for this series 😀

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Weddingbee » Blog Archive » Watercooler, Guest @ 10:35 am

    […] Diamonds, Part III: Our Experience & Tips by Miss Peony […]

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    Lindsay, Guest @ 4:30 pm

    I too live in the NYC area and my bf is looking for a jeweler in the area since we originally looked at rings when we were living in Boston. Did you go anywhere else in the Diamond Exchange area or just ERD?

  7. Member
    Lee81 17 posts, Newbee @ 3:46 pm

    Absolutely stunning ring! Would have to agree about diamond certs–so many people do not know this very basic rule when ring shopping: always make sure the stone you are interested in is certified by a reputable grading lab. Personally I would stick with GIA only just because they seem to have the best reputation in the industry. Their grading reports tend to be the strictest and the most accurate. Plus just knowing they developed the 4 C’s grading system in the first place makes me trust them above other labs.

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